On paper Black Pond should not be possible. An accomplished, funny, dark pearl of a film, it was filmed in three weeks, self-distributed and has been showered with nominations and prizes. All this was achieved by Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley who between them directed, wrote, did the visual effects and even acted. Both are ridiculous young, 25 and 26, and this is their first feature length film. All this on a budget of £25,000. Nope, not missing one or even two zeros. £25,000. Noooo, you say in disbelief. I mean, that is probably the organic juice budget for the leading star on a ‘normal’ Hollywood blockbuster, not an actual feature length film, with actors and a script and great dialogue…
What could have been a potentially risky casting of Chris Langham as the main character, Tom Thompson, somehow makes the film stronger. This was actually his first role since his recent fall from grace and in a way this adds to the portrayal, combined with the strong documentary feel of the film. He creates such a convincing portrait of middleclass midlife crisis that you kind of feel bad for laughing (sadly, those are often the best laughs, that bittersweet feeling in the pit of your stomach).
Tom Thompson finds himself dragged over the red-hot coals that are the tabloid press due to something that initially was an impulsive act of kindness but ends up as pure black humour slapstick. While walking his dog near the Black Pond of the film’s title, he meets and somewhat reluctantly extends a hand of friendship to Blake (played by Colin Hurley), a depressed widower obsessing over his wife’s death, and invites him back to his home for dinner. His grownup daughters have already left the home he and his wife, the long-suffering Sophie (played super-convincingly by Amanda Hadingue) shares. Sophie has always wanted to be a poet and boxes of her efforts are piled up in the basement. Tom’s daughters Jess (Helen Cripps) and Katie (Anna O’Grady) are sharing a flat in London with the utterly strange Tim (played by Will Sharpe) who is platonically in love with them both, while receiving therapy from Eric Sacks (Simon Amstell), a total fraudster of a therapist.
Black Pond is out on DVD Monday 16th April
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsanna bang, Black Pond, Chris Langham, Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe,